The Sermon on the Mount
Jesus’ earthly ministry began with His baptism by John, a forty day fast and temptation in a wilderness, and the calling of His closest disciples. He travelled throughout Galilee, teaching in synagogues, preaching on the kingdom and healing the sick. As news of His power spread, those with diseases came to Him, and He healed them.
When Jesus saw the crowds, He walked up a mountainside. Was He exhausted by ministry? Did He want some private instruction time with His disciples? Or was this a part of a carefully crafted plan to teach people deeper kingdom truths by first meeting their immediate needs? Perhaps it was a little of all three.
It appears Jesus moved to the mountainside with His closest disciples, only to be joined by a constant trickle of uninvited guests. At some point the entire crowd seems to have followed, since Matthew concludes his record with this commentary: “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” (Matthew 7:28-29).
It isn’t vital that we know Jesus’ intended audience since His lessons were ultimately for all who wished to be disciples. Yet, it is plausible to envision Him sitting, encircled by His disciples. Others may have huddled behind them where they could hear the sermon clearly. Then Jesus’ teaching was possibly dispersed through the crowd until the last person heard. What an amazing event this was as the Lord of the kingdom shared the elementary framework for the life of the disciple. It was, and remains the life every follower seeks.